Results tagged ‘ Barry Larkin ’

He got the message

By Craig Muder

Barry Larkin discovered exactly what it means to be a Hall of Famer Monday afternoon.

“I got the call to say I had been elected,” Larkin said. “And the next thing I knew I had 400 text messages to respond to. I’m down to 298 now.”

It will take Larkin weeks to respond to all the congratulatory notes he received after becoming the 24th shortstop elected to the Hall of Fame. His phone was filled with messages from ESPN co-workers like Karl Ravech and former teammates like Hall of Famer Tony Perez.

But the one message that almost didn’t get through belonged to a special fan.

“My daughter told me someone had called for me… She said it was Ben or Bub…,” Larkin said. “I said: ‘You mean Bud? Bud Selig?’ I couldn’t believe the Commissioner took time to call.

“It’s wonderful how many people have called or sent messages. You just can’t believe the outpouring of support.”

The incredibly humble Larkin is a favorite throughout the baseball community for his skill on the field and character off it. Few generate the universally positive reaction he draws, and it seems all of Cincinnati is celebrating the election of their hometown hero.

The Class of 2012 couldn’t be classier.

Craig Muder is the director of communications of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Willie, Joey and the Doc

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

One at a time, they approached the podium at the New York Hilton. Men of great fame, accustomed to honors and accolades.

01-24-11-Muder_Mays.jpgAnd one at a time, they looked to their right – 30 feet away in the audience at the New York City Baseball Writers’ Association of America dinner on Saturday night. And they acknowledged the great Willie Mays.

Ron Gardenhire, skipper of the Minnesota Twins and the 2010 American League Manager of the Year. Bud Harrelson, the glue that held the 1969 Miracle Mets together at shortstop. John Denny, the 1983 National League Cy Young Award winner.

Each told similar versions of the same tale, separated by only geography and time. Mays was their hero, the player who inspired them to what they became.

As more than one said: The greatest living ballplayer.

It was a chance to celebrate the Giants’ Hall of Famer, who will turn 80 this spring yet still elicits kid-like awe from three generations of baseball fans. For many, just sharing dinner with Mays was an experience they’ll never forget.

01-24-11-Muder_Gillick.jpgMays, however, was far from the only star in the room. The best of the best from the 2010 season received their hardware Saturday night, joined at the head table by luminaries like 2011 Hall of Fame electee Pat Gillick, 2012 HOF hopeful Barry Larkin, and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman.

It was the coda to the 2010 season, the official start of 2011. In 22 days, pitchers and catchers will begin to report to camps in Florida and Arizona. And the journey will begin anew.

It will be tough to top the heroics of 2010. Cy Young performances by Roy Halladay and Felix Hernandez. MVP seasons by Josh Hamilton and Joey Votto. And farewell campaigns from legendary managers Bobby Box, Lou Piniella and Joe Torre.

But come January of 2012, the magic will return at the BBWAA dinner. Maybe not with the bonus of an appearance by Willie Mays, but with the joy that is reborn with every fresh season on the diamond.

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Election excitement

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

It’s January in Secaucus, N.J., so you wouldn’t figure the air would be buzzing with baseball talk.

But at MLB Network studios on Wednesday, the atmosphere was electric as Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson prepared to announce the Baseball Writers’ Association of America Class of 2011.

01-05-11-Muder_MLBNetwork.jpgThe Network brought out its heavy hitters for the announcement, with Bob Costas, Harold Reynolds and Peter Gammons headlining a star-studded cast of announcers and analysts. For the better part of an hour prior to the 2 p.m. Magic Hour, everyone — talent, producers and crew — speculated about the results of the BBWAA vote.

For folks accustomed to making the chaos of a live TV show run like clockwork, it might have been the most exciting and nervous hour of the year.

Once the announcement came that Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven were elected to Cooperstown, everyone shifted into overdrive — filling the air with stats, highlights and predictions for 2012 and beyond. MLB Network’s Barry Larkin, who received the most votes (361, 62.1 percent) of any player not elected, was hooked up via satellite and magnanimously said what an honor it was just to be on the ballot.

This time next year, Barry may be making quite a different on-air speech.

Now, the Network starts its planning for the July 24 Induction Ceremony in Cooperstown — carried live on MLBN. It’s an incredible weekend — the best one on the baseball calendar.

But you get the feeling that the folks at MLBN now understand what news reporters already know: There’s nothing quite like the magic of Election Day.

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Hall of Fame Eve

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

It’s Hall of Fame Eve in Cooperstown, the day before the annual Baseball Writers’ Association of America election.

01-05-10-Muder_HendersonRice.jpgAnd just like on Christmas Eve, you can bet there’s going to be a few people who have trouble sleeping tonight.

Take Andre Dawson. The leading returning vote-getter from the 2009 BBWAA election (at 67 percent) is on the ballot for the ninth time after missing election by just 44 votes a year ago.

Or how about Bert Blyleven? The curveball maestro received 62.7 percent of the vote last year, falling just short of the 75 percent needed for election. For Blyleven, this marks his 13th time on the BBWAA ballot – leaving him two more chances (if he needs them) after this election.

01-05-10-Muder_ResultsBox.jpgThen there’s Roberto Alomar, who’s making his BBWAA ballot debut. The 12-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove winner could become just the 45th player to be elected in his first year of eligibility.

How about Lee Smith and Jack Morris, who both received a little less than half of the vote last year? Or ballot newcomers Andres Galarraga, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez and Fred McGriff? All are likely to receive support.

It all happens tomorrow. They’ll wake up and head downstairs with their expectations in hand. But instead of looking for the presents under the tree, they’ll wait for a phone call that will totally change their lives.

If the call comes, they’ll once again know the joy of being a kid on Christmas morning.

Craig Muder is director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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